STILL CRAZY (2010 Rootsy)
From the first guitar lick on the opening title track Still Crazy, to the last downbeat of the rocker Can't Sleep for Thinkin' - STILL CRAZY is a record filled with songs about love, heartbreak, guitars, dreams, tornadoes, trains, and dying - featuring killer guitar licks & sizzling pedal steel solos that will leave you dizzy. It's pure, raw energy.
Evan is a former hockey player, radio personality & programmer, turned songwriter/singer who moved from his home country of Canada to Sweden in a whirlwind romance. It left him on the shores of the country of his ancestors and relatives dating back as far as the records go into the late 1600´s. The fact that cousins sharing the same great, great grandfather live just up the highway makes for an interesting sense of circles closing. His journey back to Nashville to record, as many artists might agree, was one of necessity.
"Nashville has the players who played on my favorite records, so why wouldn't I have them play on mine? Why not go to the place where they are best at making the music that lives inside of me? A few years ago, I intentionally hunted down Larry Marrs (once longtime bass player & harmony singer for Marty Stuart's Hillbilly Band) because I knew he was pure Hillbilly in the greatest sense of the word - where he comes from musically is where I want my music to go. He proved that on some of Marty's best records. I saw him perform, and thought this is the kind of music I want to make - the kind that turns my crank - so why not go straight to that source? Larry works as an independent producer & session player these days. When I first reached him in 2007 his attitude about recording my debut cd HOWLIN' AT THE MOON (2008 Rootsy) was encouraging, challenging & inspiring. It was a natural that I went back to him for STILL CRAZY. We got along great from the start, had some good creative battles, and came out with some great music as a result. He has a great work ethic and fantastic network around him after spending his whole life in Nashville & recording with such artists as George Jones, Martina McBride, David Ball, Jim Lauderdale, Allison Moorer, Marty Stuart and loads of others. For him it was just a quick phone call to get the players from my favorite records, and we were in business...." -- EW
Drums - Mark Beckett (Aaron Neville, John Michael Montgomery, Colin Raye)
Bass - Larry Marrs (Marty Stuart, George Jones, Martina McBride)
Electric Guitar - James Mitchell (Jamey Johnson, Dierks Bentley, Alan Jackson)
Acoustic Guitars - Johan Engström, Larry Marrs
Piano & Keys - Howard Duck (Rascal Flatts, Suzy Boguss, Jo Dee Messina)
Pedal Steel - Robby Turner (Gary Allan, The Highwaymen, Waylon Jennings)
Harmony Vocals - Larry Marrs, Amy Courts
Fiddle & Mandolin - Tim Crouch (Dierks Bentley, Dolly Parton)
Fiddle - Kimberly Marrs (Nashville String Kings)
The record is a collection of 11 new songs laced with great guitar licks, pedal steel melancholy, heavy drum beats and dancing piano. All of this is done in a way that graciously opens up passage for hammering home the emotion of the lyrics in every song. For those engaged to really tune into this record, it's one song after another of storytelling that will move you to hit the gas pedal, play air guitar, laugh, dream, wonder, smile, dance, identify with characters, hit rewind, and do it all over again. All songs on STILL CRAZY are written by Westerlund along with a few select co-writers (Johan Ensgtröm, Johan Hallström, Patrik Lorentzson, Martin Lorentzson & Fredrik Silfverberg) in his new hometown, of Malmö, Sweden.
"I want my listeners to identify, feel, and relate with the characters in the songs through the lyrics and emotion of the music. When I write, I am always looking to create lines that make sense for the listener to nearly become the character, depending on their current life situation of course. I aim hard for lines that are contextually in order, realistic, sometimes a bit outlandish, but always aimed at the title.
Kisses Won't Cut It is an off-the-cuff speed dating experience: ....I asked her what she meant ̴ she said lately ̴ all I can think about is havin' babies ̴ my clock is tickin' loud and I don't mean maybe ̴ when it comes to me, kisses won't cut it ̴ and she said kisses just won't cut it ̴ I want the whole shebang ̴ I want a ring on my finger ̴ a great big wedding and a brand new baby buggy and a mini-van ̴ baby now, kisses just won't cut it...
Still Crazy portrays a the main character's emotions during an unexpected encounter with a lost love: ...glad you dropped by to say hello ̴ it's been some time since you been back home ̴ life out here is lonesome like some freight train runnin' down ̴ a track unknown ̴ since that day you headed out on Highway 10 and you didn't say ̴ where you were goin' with my heart, baby ̴ yeah, I'm still crazy...
Can't Stop Wonderin' works over trepidation, infatuation, and the wind up to falling in love and being taken by surprise: ...you're no two-dollar pistol you're a Colt '45 ̴ so if I act a little nervous well, I'm just gun shy ̴ I had a string of bad love and it left me blue ̴ now I can't stop wonderin' what to do about you ̴ wonderin' what to do about that long sweet kiss ̴ you planted on me in the desert last night ̴ the way that you held me an dthe look in your eyes ̴ under the stars in the full moonlight...
Waitin' for My Train' is a song about waiting to die. Sounds serious, but it's an uptempo, light-hearted traditional country song that could be about as close a song to the character of my father as I might imagine: ...he said son, this man you see ain't half the man I used to be ̴ I was good with the ladies, but I done a lot of bad things ̴ been runnin' from a lawman's gun ̴ I ain't got no ticket don't know where I'm goin' ̴ mountain high or that valley below ̴ yeah, dare I say, you know I might even pray ̴ I guess I oughtta search my soul ̴ Yeah, I’m waiting for my train to come ...
I think the 11 songs balance a good package of endearment, fear, fun, and melancholy, and straight ahead honky-tonk. Most important for me has been to progress as a writer, and bring the songs to life in the right energy, as it sounds sin my head." --EW
Scandinavian tour dates are being set on Swedish & Danish soil, while plans are also being considered for a tour back home in Western Canada. Country music in Sweden is hardly on the radar, but it has a market, if only a small one. It's necessary to encompass Scandinavia as a whole and parts of Europe to make it come alive. It only becomes an added challenge to get the music "out there", and a good challenge is something he is used to.
"Since I was a kid, I have always gone off the beaten path. My father was of the attitude - go with your gut - if it makes you feel good, do it - if it's what you want, go for it...just be prepared to work hard for what it is you want and recognize that nothing comes easy. I moved away from home when I was barely 15 to play hockey in a city where I had no friends, and needed to fend for myself and establish my situation despite the competition. I chose from two different cities my dad gave me options for - and my gut said go for the city where the competition is stiffer (Kamloops, B.C.). Fortunately, my first run at that turned out well for me, and I built some self-confidence from the experience. It became a pattern for me to go where I wanted to go and where it would demand that little extra from me to make it work. I didn't necessarily buy the idea of going where others told me I should go. This ideology held up for me, and has taken me places I never could have imagined. To hockey arenas across Canada and parts of the U.S. - to railroad crossings & switches in towns where polar bears walk the streets - to smoke ridden forest fires - to high mountains in extreme skiing back country - to ocean floors with leopard seals & turtles - to radio station studios & jail cells - to stages, meeting introducing and meeting some of my favorite musical artists - to Nashville for my first demo in´99 - on to Sweden for the love of my life and to build a family - to Nashville in 2007 to record a debut cd - onto stages in Sweden, Denmark, and the U.S. to perform - and back to Nashville again in June 2010 with a new batch of songs and a hunger for a better product. The title of the new record STILL CRAZY, is not so much for the lyric content of that particular song, but more for the context of the statement itself. I think I have to be a bit mad to do what I do, in this day and age of the music industry (we all do!)...and going places out of the ordinary is part of how I am going to need to continue to operate..." --EW
Westerlund grew up listening to Kenny Rogers, Waylon Jennings, Ferlin Husky, Don Williams, Charlie Pride, Willie Nelson and others of his father's taste, along with sounds of the 1970's southern rock scene of The Eagles, Allman Brothers, Poco, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the Marshall Tucker Band. His first record player was given to him by his step-brother, Scott Stephenson in 1980.
"I remember these big bright orange headphones. And the system had an intermittent electrical problem, so I would have to bang on it once in awhile to keep both left & right channels working in the "stereo" feature. I remember tuning into radio station in Spokane, Washington that was playing AC/DC's Shook Me All Night Long...and I ran out and bought all the AC/DC cassettes I could get my hands on. Later in the winter while traveling to a hockey tournament (I was 14) we had a careful of kids and a ghetto blaster cranked up. My dad asked me "What the heck is this noise?". I remember telling him it was AC/DC Highway To Hell - his answer "You got that right!". The first vinyl LP I bought was Steve Miller Band Book of Dreams. This, only after just realizing that I could "buy" music! Next up, only a week or so later was the self-titled album Boston, and then I snuck a listen to Bob Seger's Stranger In Town while I was babysitting for a cousin. One listen to Hollywood Nights and I was hooked on Seger after that. My record shelves started to fill with Canadian household names in rock music like April Wine, Prism, Streetheart, Trooper, The Powder Blues Band, Triumph, Rush, Chilliwack, Burton Cummings and others. My records started to stack up. Van Halen I, II, II etc. I was a big fan of rock music until I spent some time up in Wiliams Lake, B.C., where I was subjected to bands like Alabama & The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. I was hooked by the melodies, and most of all the lyrics in country songs. They really hit home. The music that has influenced me most as a writer over the years is that of The Eagles' Hotel California, Poco's Legend, Bob Seger's Night Moves, Stranger in Town & Against the Wind respectively, Marshall Tucker Band's Searchin' For A Rainbow, along with the great myriads of country artists I played on the radio. Dwight Yoakam's Hillbilly Deluxe, Steve Earle's Guitar Town rank up there on the top of the heap when it comes to vocal performances I took a shine to singing while driving down the backroads of Saskatchewan & Manitoba during summer months between hockey seasons. It took me a long time to latch onto & appreciate Bruce Springsteen. I wasn't there with him until listening to the album cuts of Born in The U.S.A. It was tracks like Downbound Train and I'm On Fire that locked me into who he is as a songwriter. So simple, so powerful. You will always find The Rising clearly accessible at my cd rack, along with Marc Cohn's Burning The Daze, Shawn Mullins Soul's Core. Travis Tritt, Marty Stuart, Vince Gill, Rodney Crowell & Dierks Bentley are usually close-by as well. When I am in dire need of a lesson in good songwriting, I just throw on Chris Knights's 2nd & 3rd releases back-to-back (Self-titled & The Jealous Kind). I think you'll hear a rather broad array of influences in my songs, and still all me". --EW
Frequently loaded as a 6-piece band called The Smokin' Guns, you 'll find Westerlund's live performances full of raw & pure energy, and at the same time humble and personal. High soaring harmonies, ripping guitar solos, intros & extros that leave you wanting more.
"I simply like to give as much energy as I can, and as much as the songs deserve. The Nashville studio band certainly gives my local band a fine reputation to live up to, so every show is a growth experience. We get tighter & more cohesive as a band, and I appreciate the attitude of the guys. When we have some rough spots, we feel it all the way home. When we play well we know it & always set focus on improving the next show. Sweden is not the first place you want to cut your teeth on releasing a country CD. But at the same time, perhaps the best learning curve of all to make a go of it as a country artist in ABBA land. It requires a whole lot extra to convince, convert attitudes, and have people have a great musical experience that leaves them wanting more. We are not the E-street Band, but they are a great model of power & energy to benchmark from. If it takes a rock'n roll attitude in a pair of cowboy boots, I'm up for that..." --EW
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